Reagan Aide: GOP leaders silent on Trump "disgusting Transcript 10/25/17 The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Ted Lieu, Barney Frank, George Lakoff

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: October 25, 2017 Guest: Ted Lieu, Barney Frank, George Lakoff

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": Bill Bradley was a rumored primary challenger to Bill Clinton for a few months till he decided not to do it. He did run five years later.

We'll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily". THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Thank you, Chuck. A breakthrough in the Russia case today from a report that the Trump campaign directly asked WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about coordinating a political effort to release Hillary Clinton's deleted e-mails.

And you may remember, it was July 9 when "The New York Times" changed everything by reporting that Kremlin-linked lawyers offered help to Trump aides at Trump Tower.

Today, October 25th could mark another key date in these kind of exposures with this report that Trump's digital operation asked Julian Assange directly for help finding Clinton's deleted emails in a new report by "The Daily Beast's" Betsy Woodruff.

It sounds like a breakthrough because it is. Woodruff noting this is the closest known connection between Trump's campaign and Assange. Julian Assange insisting he is the publisher with the same rights as any other news organization.

But US intel does view him differently in its report on the Russian election hacks. There is a finding that Russian military intelligence relayed material to Wikileaks as a conduit. It's an explosive move if Trump's digital team asked Assange to coordinate on releasing e-mails.

And it will interest special counsel Bob Mueller because it shows potential intent if he finds that related crimes occurred. Now, let's be clear. NBC News has not obtained the e-mails cited in this "The Daily Beast" report.

And often, these kind of stories include denials. But, tonight, I can tell that you Julian Assange's response, where he addresses the claim that Trump's digital firm Cambridge Analytica approached him, says no denial. He says we can confirm an approach by Cambridge Analytica and can confirm it was rejected by WikiLeaks.

So, tonight, for the first time, Julian Assange is confirming Donald Trump's digital team approached him and he rejected it. The report that the Trump campaign itself was going to these lengths for Clinton's 30,000 e-mails puts this famous plea from Donald Trump in a new light.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.


MELBER: Now, remember, when Donald Trump made that bizarre statement in July 2016, it caused shockwaves that were even too much for Trump, a candidate who never retracts anything.

He came out and he then personally insisted that what you just saw wasn't him asking Russia to find her e-mails, and while his words literally said that, they were sarcastic.


TRUMP: When I'm being sarcastic with - of course, I'm being sarcastic. But you have 33,000 e-mails deleted.


MELBER: Sarcastic. Today is one of those days that sheds a lot of light on the year leading up to today. The public defense at the time there, Donald Trump in that "Fox News" interview is that he wasn't really asking for help on the e-mails.

Today, we learned, privately, his digital team was really asking for help on the e-mails. And in such a serious way at such a serious level that Julian Assange says he did reject the approach.

And then, of course, this wasn't just any digital team. As we've reported before on THE BEAT, Cambridge Analytica was led by Steve Bannon, who used to sit on the board and hold a multimillion-dollar stake as well as billionaire Trump supporter Robert Mercer.

And while the US government has never publicly charged Assange with any crimes, Trump's own CIA directors says Assange basically runs a hostile intel service. The US has also indicted one of his most prominent sources, Edward Snowden, a leaker, whom Donald Trump used to criticize in the harshest terms.


TRUMP: He's a terrible guy. I said it right from the beginning. This guy is a bad guy. And there is still a thing called execution.


MELBER: Tonight, the Trump campaign responds saying, "we as a campaign made the choice to rely on the voter data of the RNC to help elect Trump. Any claims that the data from any other source played a key role in the victory are false."

A key role. We'll talk about that in a moment.

The general election campaign had 110 days. We just looked this up. Donald Trump cited WikiLeaks 137 times, betraying an interest in this site that we can now see apparently trickle down to his digital team.


TRUMP: This just came out. This just came out. WikiLeaks. I love WikiLeaks.

You see so much from these WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks, right? Do you hear this?

WikiLeaks unveils horrible, horrible things about Hillary Clinton.

Boy, that WikiLeaks has done a job on her, hasn't it?


MELBER: Betsy Woodruff broke this story. Let me start with this. Why did Trump's digital team secretly contact Julian Assange?

BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE DAILY BEAST": According to an email that's been described to me by two sources with knowledge of a congressional investigation, Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, which the Trump campaign paid millions of dollars to for work that it conducted during the election season, said - Nix himself said that he reached out to Assange in hopes that Cambridge Analytica would be able to help Assange publish and distribute 30,000 e-mails that have reportedly been deleted from the private server that Hillary Clinton used while she was secretary of state.

Now, those 33,000 emails were something of a great white whale for Republicans during the election. All sorts of Republicans operatives were desperate to find them. There was a host of theories as to what could be in those emails.

There were lots of efforts to track them down. What we can say today is that those efforts were going on within the Trump campaign to the extent that Alexander Nix, the CEO of a data firm that worked for the campaign, specifically offered to help Assange distribute those e-mails.

MELBER: And, Betsy, after you went to press, the Trump campaign releases a statement, they are not denying the core of your report.

WOODRUFF: Right. Exactly. That statement I thought was quite telling. Especially, what it says is, it's an effort by the Trump campaign to distance themselves from Cambridge Analytica. I've been reporting on Cambridge Analytica and the Trump's data operation for quite some time now.

One thing you hear frequently from talking to Republican insiders who are familiar with the way this firm works is that it doesn't have a great reputation in media circles and in data analytic circles.

And something I've heard from folks who were on the inside of the Trump campaign is that Cambridge Analytica vastly overstated the work it did for the Trump campaign during the election cycle.

That, of course, raises some questions. Why was the Trump campaign paying millions of dollars to a data firm when it wasn't a key player in its own data operation, according to the statements from folks inside the campaign?

So, the efforts by the campaign to distance themselves from Cambridge Analytica are, I would say, milquetoast at best.

MELBER: Betsy Woodruff with the big story today. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Sure thing.

MELBER: Now, we turn to two former federal prosecutors, Joyce Vance and Renato Mariotti, as well as Heidi Przybyla who covers the White House for "USA Today".

Renato, you look at this report. The direct request to work with Assange, his denial, his rejection of the request, confirming that it happened. And late tonight, the Trump campaign not denying it either. Connect the dots.

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Wow! Well, it's really a shocking development. What you have is an American who, obviously, had an important role within the Trump campaign, offering to commit a crime.

Essentially, what he's saying is, I hope, or I believe you have these hacked e-mails, I would love for you to distribute those hacked emails for you.

I'm not telling your viewers anything new by saying that hacking into a server here in the United States is a crime. It's a crime I investigated and prosecuted and is being prosecuted all the time.

Here you have someone saying, I want to work with you to take a part in that scheme. I want to take whatever you've stolen and distribute it.

If an agreement was actually reached, which we don't know of that, all we know is he made an offer. And according to Assange who, obviously, is of dubious veracity, somebody I wouldn't necessarily believe, but he claims he rejected that offer. WikiLeaks projected that offer.

But at the very least, you have somebody offering to commit a crime. And that's pretty serious business when that person was part of the president of the United States campaign.

MELBER: And it's more direct, Joyce, than what had been under investigation, we know, in the Russia probe in Congress, which was public references by former Trump adviser Roger Stone about Assange.

Take a listen to Roger Stone who didn't go as far publicly as this.


ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISOR: I think Julian Assange is a hero. No, I have not spoken to Mr. Assange. I have not met with Mr. Assange and I never said I had. I said we communicated through an intermediary, somebody who is a mutual friend.


MELBER: This was no intermediary. This is Julian Assange confirming and the Trump campaign refusing to deny this direct discussion, Joyce.

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Absolutely. And there are some real important threads here that need to be pulled. I take a little bit more restrained of a view than Renato.

I don't think that we've yet crossed over that path from campaign activity that's lawful, but awful, to conduct that's clearly criminal.

But what investigators will want to do is take a look at the time line because we know that Cambridge Analytica was hired in 2016. We know that this outreach from Nix to Assange occurred at some point in that same month and then we have the Trump comment in July.

So, the devil will be in the details. It will be important to know the sequence in which these events occurred. And most importantly, whether or not Nix was communicating with someone from the campaign.

The e-mails that we've heard about today are not reported to include anyone from the campaign staff, but, of course, there will be more details that prosecutors will have access to.

And this could, frankly, play very badly and move beyond Trump world involvement with Russia to Trump campaign involvement with Russia.

MELBER: Right. We don't have emails of the Trump campaign. We do have someone involved in the campaign, Heidi, the candidate who stood up there and said, "hey, Vladimir Putin, Russia, help me find these e-mails." And now, you have the other context on it.

I have the prosecutors for the law, Heidi. Let's talk about the politics here. This Trump campaign statement is remarkable, in that not only does it not deny outreach to Julian Assange for potentially criminally solicited emails - jury out on whether any crimes occurred with regard to the by my legal experts here.

But not only does it not deny that, Heidi, it then says, well, Cambridge didn't play a key role. Well, you don't need to be a lawyer to know that key role and role are different and easy debatable. This denial statement struck me as ordering more gasoline on it tonight.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "USA TODAY": Right. They were paying this firm - however, you want to qualify it, they were paying this firm millions of dollars, and that is what is important.

And Alexander Nix is close to the Mercers, who, as we all know, were the big funders behind Bannon and behind Trump. And it just feels like, Ari, every time we learn about one of these interactions, whether it's Roger Stone and Julian Assange, or Roger Stone and Gucifer 2.0 or the Veselnitskaya meeting, there's always another one that comes out.

And regardless of what we ultimately find out about the actual meetings themselves, that information was weaponized. It wasn't the 30,000 e-mails, but it was WikiLeaks.

And I remember distinctly because I was sitting in a TV newsroom ready to go on and talk about "Access Hollywood." It was hours later only that the first Podesta WikiLeaks were dumped and laid out from there on out and the president can't have it both ways.

He can't take this, talk about it 137 times or whatever the number was that you came up with, and then, at the end, claim that it had no effect.

So, we're going to come down here to what the definition of collusion is and what additional meetings and contacts come out as well about the release of the - not the 30,000 e-mails, but the actual WikiLeaks which were weaponized to great extent by the president.

MELBER: And, Joyce, how will investigators on Mueller's team look at these kind of contacts and how does intent play in? If you say to someone, I want to work with you and they say no, does that help you?

VANCE: This is incredibly helpful to prosecutors who, as a bunch, tend to believe that where there's smoke, there's fire. And there's an awful lot of smoke here. As Heidi points out, there are Russian contacts every direction that you turn in this campaign.

Now, we have someone who is close to the campaign, who worked with Parscale, who ran the data operation for Trump, and he is reaching out to Assange, showing this willingness to help. If that can be linked back to key players in the campaign, then intent will become a foregone conclusion from Mueller.

MELBER: Heidi, briefly, Paul Manafort also under the gun here by the federal prosecutors in New York, the same place where Donald Trump has been holding these unusual private meetings. Just briefly, what do we know about where he figures into these probes?

PRZYBYLA: Well, it's the big money aspect of this. And that's the reason why you see Mueller staffing up with so many crimes attorneys. And the line leading to essentially money laundering now being one of the possible charges.

Look, the two people who really at the epicenter of this regardless of what happens with the president are Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. And it all comes down to what kind of money was being traded behind the scenes and the financial gain. And I think this is one thread and one possible line of charges that he could be coming up against.

MELBER: Yes. You talk about money. And Paul Manafort as someone who is famous for multimillion-dollar deals over decades. And yet, strangely, agreed to volunteer and work for the trump campaign for free.

Cambridge, as you mentioned, getting million. What else were they doing with the money now that we see Julian Assange confirming for the first time they asked him for help on the Clinton emails or wanting to talk about it.

Renato, we know you as a Russia expert. There are more and more rumors about you potentially running for attorney general in Illinois. As a former federal prosecutor, are you close to making that decision? When might you make it?

MARIOTTI: I think I will be making a decision tomorrow. So, everyone should stay tuned to MSNBC tomorrow and look at my Twitter and Facebook and I'll have more details then.

MELBER: So, you're going to decide whether you're in or out of the race tomorrow, is what you're saying?

MARIOTTI: Absolutely.

MELBER: Interesting. Well, we'd be keeping an eye on that. Renato Mariotti, making a hint of news. And Joyce Vance and Heidi Przybyla, thank you for your reporting.

Coming up, the Trumpification of the GOP. Two Republican critics strengthen Donald Trump's hand when they step out of the Senate? And what's behind these new Republican investigations into history of the Obama administration. Congressman Ted Lieu from the judiciary committee joins me live.

And later, you may have heard a lot of spin about this Trump dossier. Tonight, later in the show, I'm going to give you my breakdown separating fact from fiction.

And later, the man who is known Dodd-Frank, we have the Frank from Dodd- Frank here to talk about what he says may be the most important thing the Trump administration did this week.

I'm Ari Melber. You're watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: Two top Republican senators say they can no longer abide Donald Trump partly because he's untruthful. And, today, Donald Trump responded by claiming his Senate meeting was a love fest.


TRUMP: I called it a love fest. It was almost a love fest. Maybe it was a love fest. Standing ovations. There is great unity.

The fact is there was tremendous unity in that room. And we're really unified on what we want to do.


TRUMP: I don't think they'd do that. I really know that they want tax cuts. They know we need it. I don't think they'd do that. I really don't. I know them well enough. I don't know Flake very well, but I know Bob Corker. I think they really would do it. I think they feel they have to do it for the country.


MELBER: Other lawmakers telling "The Washington Post", they object to Trump's conduct as well.

Now, here's how Congressman Jim Himes explained it last night on THE BEAT


REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: It is far from true that they're the only ones who feel that way.

The interesting people are the handful of people who will speak up against the president of their own party when they're not retiring. A handful who are publicly opposed. And then, you've got the vast bulk, 200 or so Republicans, who are on a spectrum between uncomfortable, and that's probably the best of it, to outright appalled, but not willing to say much.


MELBER: Now, more defections could lead to strength in numbers. But to paraphrase Francis Ford Coppola's rendition of General Patton, you don't win in politics by ending your own career to make a point. You win by getting some other fool to end his career to make a point.

Blake and Corker are making an important point against Donald Trump, but their side will, obviously, only win when they can do that and win primaries.

With me now is Tim O'Brien, executive director of "Bloomberg View" and the author of "Trump Nation" and a former defendant in a lawsuit with Donald Trump, as well as Max Boot, a senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, the author of a forthcoming book, "The Road Not Taken." And Max has been very thoughtful on the challenge to conservatives in this era.

I begin to you with the paraphrase of General Patton issue. This is a step, this is leadership. They're widely praised for it. And yet, I wonder what you think about the need to turn this leadership into a winning strategy to beat Trump and Trump's allies in primaries.

MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW FOR NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, I think this is the beginning of something because I think it is incredibly important that Sen. Flake and Sen. Corker are out there telling the truth.

And the situation where the entire Republican Party is being taken over by fake news, where they are buying this alternative universe concocted by Donald Trump, simply to speak the truth is a radical act. And there is no question that people like Flake and Corker and John McCain and George W. Bush, all of whom have spoken out against Trump in the last week. They are a small minority among Republicans.

But there have been other movements that have been small minorities too. In the 1930s, a very small minority, people like Winston Churchill, said that appeasement was a dishonorable and failed strategy. And most people thought it was wonderful.

At the same time, in the 50s and 60s, a minority of people said that segregation was not an honorable way to conduct our affairs. And most people in the US thought it was just fine.

In the early 1950s, most people thought that Joe McCarthy was a good guy who was really going to smoke out these communists. And we have seen the way that history is turned around.

MELBER: You think this is at that level? I mean, you're making serious comparisons to segregation, to defending democracy. You think it's at this level?

BOOT: I think this is a moral issue because I don't think we've ever seen anybody as dangerous or unfit for office as Donald Trump. I think it is long overdue and highly welcome that members of his own party are starting to speak the truth about what he is all about.

And, yes, they are a small minority, but I suspect that the judgment of history will be very different than the judgment of most Republicans today because I think that history will judge that anybody who supported Donald Trump has a lot to answer for because this is a guy who, clearly, cannot be trusted with the office to which he has been trusted.

And that's what Flake and Corker and the others are saying and I believe that they will be vindicated in the long run.

MELBER: in, those are powerful words from Max Boot, who is - like some of the other critics - a long-standing conservative intellectual and thinker. He talks about history here. The saying in hip hop is the streets is watching.

And I think Max Boot is telling us history is watching. And history has been a judge what Republicans and conservatives and other people with good conscience do. Is that how you see this week?

TIM O'BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "BLOOMBERG VIEW": Well, among the many things I admire in Max is that he is a principled conservative. And I think what you see right now in the Republican Party is this crisis in values, morals and principles.

But the party isn't defining what is contemporary conservatism in the age of Trump. And I think it's actually constitutionally incapable of doing it because the party is broken. It is split between this populist wing and more traditional Republicans.

And that's the vacuum Trump has filled. And I don't think the Trumpification - you don't call it the Trumpification of the party, I think doesn't reach back far enough to where this began. We saw elements of this in Sarah Palin's ascent. You could go back to Barry Goldwater in the early 1960s.

MELBER: But why would you want to?

O'BRIEN: Well, you could go back because it's always important to study history, Ari. You know that.

The difference with Trump is how unfettered his own ambitions are from getting policy through, making sure the party is cohesive, defining a new set of conservative principles. It is all about himself.

MELBER: It is all about himself, which you know from writing the book. I want to ask Max about this because Tim introduces the historical comparison. Goldwater told the country, the pursuit of liberty is no vice when it's extreme, right?

And I wonder with Donald Trump, whether in his view, the pursuit of ego has no edge or extreme because that seems to be what this is about.

We saw that in the exchange we played on on taxes. There are plenty of conservatives who want to do things with taxes here. He doesn't seem to understand that he has colluded and clouded that by making everything a feud.

BOOT: Right. No, of course, for Donald Trump, it is all about Donald Trump. I don't think anybody can seriously think that he has the slightest interest in our understanding of policy affairs. And he shows that every time he opens his mouth and starts to talk about healthcare or taxes. He shows how little he knows. I mean, he displays vast ignorance.

So, there is no particular policy agenda that he wants to advance. He wants wins, so he can boost his ego and say that everybody loves him and brag about how people are giving him standing ovations, as he just did, which is, I think, something that really radically separates him from other people that you can mention like Barry Goldwater or others.

I mean, I agree or disagree with Barry Goldwater, he was a serious guy who had real principles. And Donald Trump has no principles. He has no scruples. He has no morals. He will say or do anything to advance his own ego, and that is a uniquely dangerous concept combination to have in the Oval Office.

MELBER: Final thought from Tim.

O'BRIEN: I don't think who we're seeing in Donald Trump right now is new. I think this has been a known issue about him for a while. And that's why I am less optimistic that Flake speech is a watershed moment.

I think until people who are staying in the party take him on and speak out publicly, it's important, but it's symbolic.

MELBER: And take him on and fight and fight to the end. John McCain had a tough primary in the same state and he is a different character, but he waged on. And there is this larger question whether they will wage on and fight.

But, Tim, I do appreciate you landing the discussion on a pessimistic tone. That's what we like around here.

Max, stick around. I want to talk to you a little more. Trump ran as a populist. Now, he sides with Wall Street. Former Congressman Barney Frank, the Frank in Dodd-Frank, my exclusive guest on THE BEAT tonight.

And later, those senators attacking Trump as reckless and undignified, are West Wing staffers playing the role of "baby sitters"?

And then later, you've heard about the Russia dossier. It's back in the headlines. I have a special breakdown for you on what the facts are later in the show.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: House Republicans launching new investigation into the Obama administration. They're probing a seven-year-old uranium project, the trump dossier and the FBI handling of the Clinton e-mail case. Now the Clinton case led by Trey Gowdy, a veteran of investigations into Clintons. Now, one of the questions we sometimes ask here at THE BEAT is, but why? Each of these topics, very dated. Republicans, of course, held the House during the Obama administration and could have launched all of these back when he was actually in office. Today, several independent experts pointing to part of the answer of why old news is new again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new Russian collusion probe in Washington, this one involving Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A major bombshell revealing who helped pay for the infamous Trump dossier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another probe launched today into the Obama Justice Department's handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: This very corrupt Uranium One deal that compromised all of our national security.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democracy is on the line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the networks cover this investigation with the sweaty exuberance that they covered with the collusion?


MELBER: I've got some sweaty exuberance for you right here. Congressman Ted Lieu joins me, Democrat from California in the House Judiciary Committee. I will be the exuberantly sweaty anchor bringing up these issues, you will be of course the respectable member of Congress. But I just can't make heads or tails of why this would even look useful. I understand the politics, I worked you know, a little in the body that you serve. But how does this even work when all of these things are old, could have been investigated at the time, and Clinton e-mail, really?

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA), HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, thank you, Ari, for your question. It looks to me like the House Republicans are trying very hard to impeach President Hillary Clinton, but she's not the president. She is a private citizen. It is a waste of taxpayer funds to go after a private citizen. We should be focused at our current President and on important issues, like why did four troops die in Niger and how can we better protect them. What the Republicans are doing is totally ridiculous.

MELBER: David Bossie here, a Trump ally has theory. And his theory is similar to what I think some progressive and independent critics would say about this investigation, which is they're not about Clinton e-mail, they're not actually about uranium, they are a bank shot -- and I mean like from backcourt, but still like far loopy bank shot to try to get Mueller. Take a listen.


DAVID BOSSIE, DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Bob Mueller, the current investigator on the so-called Russian collusion investigation about the Trump campaign, which is completely fabricated I might add is -- was the FBI Director at the time. And so, I think there needs to be somebody other than him who investigate this.


MELBER: Congressman your response?

LIEU: Actually Ari, I think the real reason the Republicans are launching these stupid investigations, is by dangling the shiny object, saying, here, look at it. They're trying to distract from the disaster at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And that's why they're really doing it because they know that every week there's something really bad about Donald Trump and they want the public to pay attention to something else.

MELBER: And so how are Democrats going to approach these queries?

LIEU: Democrats are going to resist and fight the queries. What is very interesting that the House Judiciary Committee of which I sit is looking again at Clinton e-mails. So if they're going to waste taxpayer funds to do that, then I going to demand that they also look at the private e-mails of Ivanka and Jared Kushner and ask why they're using private e-mails to do official business and why they try to hide this fact by putting the e-mails on the Trump Organization servers. If we're going to have a hearing, it should be fair and look at the current administration as well.

MELBER: Well, Congressman Lieu, I appreciate you joining me on those stories. Coming up, the top Republican was mocking the White House as an adult daycare center. Tonight, there may be some reality to the claim, we'll explain. And candidate Trump said he'd stand up the Wall Street, he said Bannon said that was important but he sided last night with Wall Street. The co-sponsor of the Wall Street reform bill Chairman Frank is actually here live. That's next.


MELBER: While Donald Trump draws attention to his feuds, last night his administration gutted a key rule to patrol Wall Street. This may be the worst thing the Trump Administration does this week and notice how much of the volume is lower for this move than, say, Trump's Twitter tirades, but we do see you. Now, here's what he Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail.



I'm not going to let Wall Street get away with murder. Wall Street has caused tremendous problems. I've been talking about it very strongly. Certain things that they want and they want them badly and it's not fair to give it to them.


MELBER: That was 2016. Now, here's 2017 on your right. You see Mike Pence last night casting the tie-breaking vote to side with Wall Street protecting bankers from collective lawsuits the consumer file when harmed by bankers. Quite a contrast. Those suits are designed to pool consumer power against banks. It's hard to sue Goldman Sachs all by yourself. But this Obama era rule from the consumer group that Elizabeth Warren pioneered was supposed to empower consumers. It all grew out of the Dodd-Frank bill to reform Wall Street. With me now is Barney Frank, the former Chairman of the Financial Services Committee. You helped write these regulations, was it -- was it important what Mike Pence did last night?

BARNEY FRANK, FORMER CHAIRMAN, FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE: Absolutely it's important. Understand what I mean. You have what Wells Fargo did to people. You have other banks that may have -- that may have abused people. What Mike Pence did -- not just Mike Pence but other Republicans including the great Bob Corker and Jeff Flake who fell right in line, and John McCain, what they did was to protect Wells Fargo effectively against any ability by those that they harmed to get back at them. Because very often when we're talking about this, the amount that you may have been hurt is a few hundred dollars. A lot of people are hurt for a few hundred dollars. That may happen several times. It does not pay the (INAUDIBLE) of being a lawsuit, maybe at federal court for that small amount. You can't get it done.

What you have been able to do -- what would have been able to do under the rule that the consumer bill put forward is to get a whole bunch of people together to sue. That would have given the deterrent to people and would have allowed them to bear those costs. Instead, they are forced to (INAUDIBLE) to arbitration which is wholly in favor of the bank. (INAUDIBLE) Sarah Raskin who was Consumer Official in the Obama administration, she noted nine percent of the arbitrations go for the -- for the agreed consumer. And you know, (INAUDIBLE) I'm glad you did. Donald Trump, yes, he lies a lot but I don't -- I can't think of a lie he's told as blatant as this one. He has not done one single thing to hem in Wall Street and in fact, he has given them a lot of what they want. He has consistently tried to undermine this kind of regulation. His campaign promise to that he was going to rein in Wall Street ranks as one of the biggest lies of all time in our presidential politics.

MELBER: Right, and it's a lie as you point out with serious consequences. This affects people, affects the pocketbook. Here are some of your form he Congressional colleagues on this last night, again a debate that merits attention.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: This is just one of many issues where once again we're helping the powerful against the powerless.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This bill is a giant wet kiss to Wall Street. President Trump, are you really going to let Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote to hand bid banks their biggest win in Congress since they crashed the economy?


MELBER: Do you view this as proof positive to Trump supporters, who said it was about economics, it was about Wall Street, he talked the talk that that's dead, that's over as of last night?

FRANK: Well, if it was a cat it would have been dead nine times over. This is further proof. I'm afraid there were some people who are committed to him whose anger at various groups, at various things is so deep that nothing he does or doesn't do has an effect. But anybody who's paying attention, yes, this is latest in a series of his undermining every effort we made to protect the consumer. And by the way, I do want to make an important point. You know, it's sometimes fashionable to condemn both parties, etcetera. This was a unanimous Democratic effort to protect the consumer and only two of the 52 Republicans broke.

In other words, of the 90 -- of the 100 Senators who voted, 98 voted on party lines. All the Democrats on the right side, all but two Republicans on the wrong side. I hope people will remember this. Party does count the, unfortunately. I wish this weren't partisan issues. But the Republican Party, including the rebels, including Jeff Flake, including Bob Corker, voted to just hammer the consumer yesterday and take away the only weapon they would have had to defend themselves against a particular sort of abuse.

MELBER: You make that point. You call it a weapon and a lot of people would say it's also simply a shield, an ability for consumers to stand up to the banks in court. The banks are on the right side of the argument, they can still win in those cases and yet this was a rule to protect them from ever having to stand up in open court, which is why we want an expert like you, Congressman Barney Frank --

FRANK: Well, it's immunity. It is a grant of immunity to large financial institution so they can abuse the consumers and pay no price for it.

MELBER: Thank you for coming on THE BEAT Congressman Frank. Always learn something from you. Still ahead, the Trump dossier, I will be separating the facts from fiction. And also, Senator Corker mocking the White House for adult day care but is there any reality to that? We will probe it up ahead.


MELBER: There's a strange theme emerging in the talk around this administration of Trump as a child surrounded by adults. It was Senator Bob Corker calling the White House an adult day care center with west wing staff as babysitters.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I've had personal meetings, personal dinners, personal phone calls when the staff has asked me to call over and intercede on something that was not going to happen -- that was going to happen that was not good for the country.


MELBER: Others Washington insiders have also said the general surrounding Trump are the adults in the room.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It almost looks like a defiant child who is trying to just, you know, test all the adults around him as much as he can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a President who is determined to signal, I don't want any adults in the room except me. And he -- and nothing I think makes him crazier than this idea that there are responsible grown-ups who are going to contain him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does seem that the adults and the foreign policy team seems to be those people I'm talking about.


MELBER: Welcome to the new nanny state. For whatever reason, this team of Trump's infantile behavior has been with him a long time. It was 1989 when Spy Magazine portrayed him on the cover as a child with the headline, Little Donald Unhappy At Last. And that was when he was just a real estate guy. Today he's President. Does depicting Trump as a child surrounded by adults though give him cover? I'm joined by George Lakoff a UC Berkley Professor an expert of Linguist. Professor, unpack this frame for us.

GEORGE LAKOFF, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BERKLEY: Well, as soon as you say these adults in the room, it says that Donald Trump is a baby, a child. And that underestimates him tremendously. What it says is that he's an innocent and he's anything but an innocent. It also says he's not able to accomplish anything, he isn't skilled, and so on. He's very skilled. He's accomplishing huge amounts every day and it's important to understand that this is the case. So what is he good at? He's very good at throwing tantrums, not uncontrolled tantrums like a kid but controlled tantrums to intimidate people and he is very good at intimidating people that way.

He also tweets, but his tweets are not uncontrolled tantrums, they are strategic. I've done an analysis of his tweets and they are -- they are four types and they're all strategies. I can get that for you if you like. The -- in addition to that, he has accomplished incredible amounts, especially through his appointments. Think of his "accomplishments of you know, getting rid of environmental regulations, getting rid of Wall Street regulations," getting rid regulations on all sorts of things, every regulation is a protection. He said he wants to get rid of three-quarters of the regulation status three-quarters of the public protections and he's doing it. He's achieving it. And also --

MELBER: And Professor, let me ask you this part. Because you've probed the way political language can even short-circuit how we as even citizens address our leaders. Trump seems to play into this, as I think you're suggesting. Here was him today, and if you listen closely, as I know you do to the words, he sort of suggests again in this self-infantilizing process that he is just out here passively and things are just happening. He's just seeing things which is not, of course, the true role of the President. Take a listen.


TRUMP: My generals and my military, they have decision-making ability. As far as the incident that we're talking about, I've been seeing it just like you've been seeing it.


MELBER: Is it true that he's seeing it just like everyone else as if he's this passive?

LAKOFF: Hardly. He is the Commander in Chief and he's said so repeatedly and he is in charge of what the military is and is not doing. And he doesn't want to take responsibility for what happened in Niger, for the ambush of those four people who were not protected when they should have been.

MELBER: And what do you make of the -- what do you make of who are the adults? The idea that people -- the generals now are the adults in this -- in this strange, long-running metaphor.

LAKOFF: Well, what that does is militarize the country. It says that they're the only people who are knowledgeable, responsible and have good judgment. And what that does is put the military in charge of having the judgment to carry out foreign policy and a lot of domestic policy, as well. That is extremely dangerous. You do not want to put any country in the hands of its military.

MELBER: How do you, briefly, beat back a frame like this?

LAKOFF: How do you do it? You talk about very simply. The idea of government of, by, and for the people. It's very simple. Lincoln said it. Of means, the same people who are in charge of the government, in the government, are outside. So there's no black -- no lack of communication. By means that the same life experiences of the people governing you are the same as the people who are they -- who are they governed. And for the people says that the government is there to protect and promote the well- being of all of its citizens. That is not what's going on right now. And it's not going on for a very interesting reason. He's not an innocent. He's not a baby. He's not passive.

MELBER: Right. He's not -- he's not a baby. He's not a baby! I mean, that is -- it's 2017 and that's where we're going to land. George Lakoff, I want to have you back, so thank you. I look forward to having you back. Up ahead, my special breakdown on what you need to know on the Trump dossier.


MELBER: The Trump dossier is back in the news along with lots of hype. So let's clear up fact from fiction. The dossier refers to a once-secret, now-leaked research files and alleged links between Russia and Donald Trump. The funding and the origin of the dossier was revealed before the election. Mother Jones Journalist David Corn reported that a former British Intelligence operative began oppo research originally financed by a Republican client critical of Trump. And then before the former spy was retained, the project's financing switched to a client allied with the Democrats.

Corn established at the time the project was funded by Trump's opponents, first in the GOP primary and then in the general election. Funding is a relevant thing to know, but it doesn't tell you whether the findings are true. NBC News has not confirmed many of the claims in the dossier. Some, though, have been verified. The Trump organization did seek Kremlin help for business in Russia exposed by e-mails from Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen. Contacts between the Russian government and former Trump aides like Carter Page and Michael Flynn did occur and are under scrutiny. Page even named in a Russian spy indictment. But whether that trail leads to a Trump conspiracy has not been determined by investigators. The public trail for the dossier runs back a full year.

So that is the context for what's basically an incremental development in what we've learned, thanks to reporting from the Washington Post, which names the Democratic funding source first referred to by Mother Jones last year. It turns out it was a lawyer named Marc Elias. He's worked for Hillary Clinton and previously for John Kerry. He's kind of the typically the Democrat you'd logically expect to help the effort, a party insider. This revelation advances what we know a bit, but it doesn't fundamentally change the picture from a year ago. We knew the dossier was funded by Trump opponents, in both parties. The big question is whether it was true. Today, Donald Trump claimed all of this is big because Democrats allegedly denied it.


TRUMP: I think it's very sad what they've done with this fake dossier. It was made up and I understand they paid a tremendous amount of money and Hillary Clinton always denied it, the Democrats always denied it. And now only because it's going to come out in a court case, they said, yes, they did it, they admitted it and they're embarrassed by it.


MELBER: Embarrassment is an emotion, harder to fact check that part. In his first press conference after the election, though, Donald Trump did bring up disputed claims in the dossier.


TRUMP: I was in Russia years ago with the Miss Universe contest, which did very well, Moscow, the Moscow area, did very, very well. And I told many people, be careful because you don't want to see yourself on television, cameras all over the place, and again, not just Russia, all over. Does anyone really believe that story? I'm also very much of a germaphobe, by the way. Believe me.


MELBER: Today David Corn suggests Trump defenders are trying to exaggerate the funding ego to undermine the dossier allegations. Here's the bottom line, we always knew who paid for this portrait. The only question critical to the Russia probe is whether the portrait is authentic or a forgery. And this isn't art. The answer will not be in the eye of the beholder. That does it for THE BEAT. I'll see you back here tomorrow night, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. And now stay tuned, because "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.



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